garden window

Plants really do talk – but do we listen?

My orchids are doing very well in the garden window.  It has taken me a long time to find plants that appreciate an eastern exposure, and orchids do!

A few weeks ago, I noticed my “brown-spotted yellow” orchid starting new leaves.  I have no idea what this one is called.  I picked up a few toss off orchids at the Phipps Conservatory annual spring flower sale a couple of years back.  It did bloom once, but hasn’t been one of my more prolific bloomers.  Unfortunately, I never did take any photos of it in bloom.  It looked something like this, if memory serves me right.

Orchid Dendrobium Minnie
photo credit – clown alley orchids

The new leaves were kind of crinkly, shaped more like an accordion.  I don’t remember seeing new leaves like this before, but I thought perhaps this was the way new leaves developed.  I took the “wait and see” approach.

Yesterday, as I realized the leaves were still crinkly, I started thinking that perhaps this plant is trying to tell me something.


I quickly Googled “crinkly orchid leaves” and discovered that this is really not the normal way this orchid presents new growth.  I read that crinkly leaves could be a sign that the roots are not taking up enough water.  Only one way to determine if the roots are unhappy.

Upend the pot and take a look!


An inspection of the roots revealed that while most of the roots were in fair condition – most were white and plump – the medium was completely saturated and clumpy on the bottom of the pot.  The medium breaks down over time, and these little roots aren’t making spaces through the medium so that the water could drain out properly.

So rather than not enough water, my orchid was sitting in a swamp.  The roots could not breathe!

In order to allow proper drainage, I added a few pebbles to the bottom of the pot before I refreshed the medium, and replanted.

Hopefully, this plant will re-establish itself and bloom once again.  I’ll be sure to capture the blooms then!


garden, garden window, indoor gardening

Tropical break

Two years ago, I obtained my very first orchid.  I was always so intimidated by them – they are so beautiful, yet I had heard so much about how challenging they could be to grow.  I wasn’t sure I was up to the challenge but I purchased one at the Philadelphia Flower show.  After juggling the delicate flowers on the bus ride home, I found the perfect location for it in my garden window.  The growers had included a leaflet on the proper care, so I was all set.  The flowers lasted about 2 months, which truly amazed me.

DSC_0667After enjoying these blooms through May, imagine my excitement when I visited the Phipps Conservatory spring flower sale in May and found a booth that was selling “toss off” orchids.  The oriental flower show was concluding, and the specimens that had been on display were being sold at deep discount prices.  The only problem was there was no indication of what I was buying.  The greens were healthy enough, but the blooms had long since died and the stems were trimmed way back.  I bought 3 plants.

I quickly ran out to the garden center that evening to purchase some Orchid Medium and pots.  Planting them and then watering was all the care they required.  Some friends of mine mentioned how they simply placed an ice cube in the pot every week, and that was enough to sustain.  But I read up on them a bit, and saw how you really shouldn’t utilize the ice cube method.  And just think about it.  Would you want your feet dipped in an ice bath once a week?

I water them once a week, placing each pot in the sink and running water through the potting medium until the water flows out the bottom.  I let them drain a bit, then place them back in the garden window.  Truly one of the easiest houseplants I have ever maintained.  They don’t bloom very often, and even after 2 years, I’m still waiting for one to bloom.

After taking all the Christmas decorations out of the garden window a few weeks ago, I noticed my mystery orchid had sprouted a shoot with a few buds on it.  I’ve been waiting so patiently, checking the growth each day.  And finally, today, we have a bloom!